An initial understanding of how game users explore virtual environments
Spatial exploration is a core component of play in a rich and diverse range of modern video games. However, there is insufficient research into understanding spatial exploration in order to design better gameplay experiences. In this paper, we investigate the gameplay behaviors of 25 players across three types of exploration games by collecting in-game data, think-aloud data, questionnaire responses and post-game interview data. We use thematic analysis to analyze the data and map out four player exploration archetypes (PEAs): Wanderers, Seers, Pathers and Targeters. Then, a lens analysis is conducted to investigate the behavioral traits of these four archetypes to highlight different aspects of exploration. Gender, weekly gameplay time and real-life navigation abilities are the three factors which have been found to significantly impact the archetypes. Finally, the relationships between the participants’ preferences to the terrain features and their archetypes are also investigated. These results match the participants’ traits.